Smoky Porky Beans
I bought these beans in a Middle Eastern shop. They look like cannellini beans but smaller. They cook and taste quite different to cannellini beans and I have no idea what they are. A slightly bitter taste (which I don’t mind) and they hold their shape and texture much more than the cannellini do (which tend towards mush if overcooked). These beans were great for a big robust pot of beans cooked in tomato, garlic and some lovely smoked pork ribs….with ofcourse lots of my current favourite spice – paprika. Three types of paprika in fact. Yes, when I get obsessed about a taste sensation I do tend to go crazy. At last count I had about 7 different types of paprika. Spanish sweet, Spanish bitter-sweet smoked, Hungarian sweet, Hungarian hot, smoked, a paprika paste which is sensational….I think there are more. I find I need to combine two or three to get the exact mix of smokiness, heat and sweetness in what I am cooking. Yes, quite mad.
One of these days I will take a photo of my spice wall to show you….it has quite a reputation of its own let me tell you.
So anyhow, here is how I made these beans. They were rather delicious and just perfect for a winter evening. I didn’t thikn my kids would eat it as they have never eaten baked beans (and these ended up looking a lot like them). But there was nothing else that I could whip my as an alternate meal for them (and the spirit was not willing either), and nothing like yogurt that I could use to disguise the fact that they were a tad on the spicy side, particularly for Tara. Oh well, I thought, I will just serve it up and see what happens. They can always have toast if they complain too much. Surprisingly they ate it all up without comment. Phew.
Here is how I made it. It is not an exact recipe with exact quantities. Just use it as a guideline and feel free to substitute with alternatives. The good thing about this dish is that you can put almost anything in it and it will turn out fine. The main thing is to give it time to cook slowly.
Beans with Smoked Pork Ribs
2 cups of strange white beans (or cannellini or alternate) soaked overnight.
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced carrot
1 cup diced onion
2 bay leaves
2 cans of tomatoes or a big bottle of tomato sugo (pulp)
small rack of smoked pork ribs (substitute bacon bones, or even 1-2 chorizo sausages – or leave out for a vegetarian version)
paprika (at least one of them should be smoked paprika to enhance the smoky taste, and ideally one should be hot – or substitute some chilli powder if you do not have a paprika collection like me!)
Cook the beans until they are mostly cooked in a pot with lots of water. If you are keen throw in the celery tops, a bit of carrot and a bay leaf into the water while they are cooking. Discard that cooking water. The beans I used were slightly bitter so it was important to discard the water otherwise the bitterness would have dominated)
Fry the onions in a little olive oil until soft and starting to brown. Add in the ginger and the paprika. Fry for a few minutes. Add the celery, carrot and bay leaves and fry for a further few minutes. Now add in the rest of the ingredients and a cup of water. Cover and cook on a slow stove (or in the oven as I did) for 2-3 hours. Check occassionally and give it a good stir. Add more water if you think it looks too dry or leave the lid off for a while if there is too much liquid.